Generation Mama and the not-so-ancient breeder

I found out I was accidentally pregnant with my third child in the midst of my 40s. A third child was never an actively pursued option, to put things mildly. For a week or so, I sprawled in deep, dark shock. Yes, this changed a few life expectations. But the biggest surprise has been how into it I am. asked me to write a guest post to discuss the differences in being pregnant in my 40s compared to my 30s, and I’m struggling to entertain you. At the moment, at 35 weeks pregnant, I can’t think of any age-related issues that seem either important or amusing. I could write about how old I’ll be when this child finishes high school, or turns 21. I could tell you that I’m called an “elderly multigravida”, which is a funny, archaic term.

I call myself the Ancient Breeder, but to be honest, this pregnancy does not make me feel ancient. If anything, it makes me feel young, fresh, and, despite the daily afternoon naps, quite vital. And crafty, like a hipster friend of Patience Hodgson. As they say, I’m so crafty, I make people. Even accidentally.

I did feel ancient, once, this week, when I was a guest at a function populated by sweet, wholesome food bloggers. Why? I offered to take a photo across the table of a couple of fellow guests. (Her selfie-taking arm just seemed too short to encompass the glory of edible delight lying outside their shot.) I like to be pictorially helpful: I often volunteer to take strangers’ photographs for them. I have taken many blurred photos of Asian package tourists, so that everyone in the group gets in. I feel sorry for the one photo-taking parent who, you know, is the one always left out of the family documentation. I balance their albums.

But the selfie, I discovered, is sacrosanct. Blogger One looked at me aghast, not quite comprehending why I’d interfere in the gentle art of mobile-phone-self-photography. The other blogger, the one who looked quite like Moby (and hence closer to my middle-aged years; no twenty-year-old would look like Moby) realized what I’d offered, shook his head, and shrugged kindly at me.

“It’s a selfie thing,” he explained. (He may as well have added, “You wouldn’t get it, grandma”.)

I didn’t get the selfie thing, but I got the bigger message. I really did. I took no offence; there was none to take. But this was the message: It’s not about age; it is about your generation. Or cohort, or tribe, or whatever other sociological label you prefer.

Moby of Brisbane was all of about 18 months younger than me. This misunderstanding had nothing to do with age and everything to do with tribes. For I was not one of theirs, and I don’t think that the heavily pregnant mature lady who shared their table for a couple of hours would be first on a shortlist for new members. Which is fine. Because I realise I belong to another generation, not just defined by age: Generation Mama*.

Generation Mama transcends age and forms new bonds. You don’t have to share birth decades, scary high-school-formal hairstyle memories, or the same pre-teen crush on either Corey, to share exhaustion, the slam of maternal love, and the maternal guilt and confusion that comes home with a new baby.

When I found out I was accidentally pregnant this time around, I thought a blog called The Ancient Breeder would be a hoot, but it’s sometimes proving to be less relevant as this pregnancy progresses. I hear more from followers in their 20s than those close to my own age. Perhaps I should write more age-specific posts, but the material just isn’t that exclusive. We’re all breeders, if we’re breeders, and the age bit isn’t so relevant. At the moment, I have more in common with my beautiful twenty-something niece, who writes The Single Mumpreneur blog, than with many women my own age.

Because our ages belong to different generations, but our circumstances are completely Generation Mama.

*Or Generation Parent, to be fair, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it…


Caroline Gardam

Caroline Gardam is a southeast Queensland writer and editor. As Mama Caz, she publishes the blog The Ancient Breeder. [link to]

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